I’d advise not to seperate text from behaviour/’system’.

The forge is not working at the moment, so I thought I’d pop this here in the meantime. It was addressed to a guy called Andre at the forge, but I’ll make it a generic general address post here.

I’d like to offer a second opinion that’s very different. I would say not only to keep seeing text and behaviour (called ‘system’) as the same, but also strongly advise against seperating the notions. Weve a long history with board and card games where text and behaviour/system are identical. Where they aren’t, it’s either called cheating, or the technical phrase for it is ‘a fuck up’! 🙂 I’ll give three examples, the first a non gamey one, because this extends well beyond gaming as it applys to alot of self correction.

1. I was watching a competative cooking competition on TV (blame my woman for that), and they had footage of one of the contestants slowly but surely spooning the entire contents of a jar of mustard and putting it into the mix. They cut to an after interview and she said she genuinely thought the recipe asked for an entire jar, when the recipe asked for a teaspoons worth (or some much smaller and fixed amount).

Now, if an observer of her were to say she is inventing a new recipe, or that she was inventing a system in doing that, that observer is incorrect and is actually colouring the result. It’s actually the observer who is inventing a new recipe, if they ‘see’ a recipe being invented. It’s the observer who is inventing a system if they ‘see’ a system. She isn’t inventing anything – this is a fuck up. Not a recipe, not a system.

2. Way back, playing the underground RPG, my friend Dan got it into his head that you can do as many attacks as you want, but you just take a penalty to hit on each one. He genuinely thought this was part of the ‘recipe’ so to speak and was doing this in play.

If an observer of were to say he or the group is inventing a system there, that observer is incorrect and is actually colouring the result. It’s the observer who is inventing a system if they ‘see’ a system. There’s no system here as much as when someone has an epileptic fit, they are not inventing a system to their bodies movements, they simply spasm.

3. A more recent game, rifts perchance. Chris and Dan were adding two points of megadamage from the fencing skill, when he attacked with his MD vibroblade. Now I was looking at them wondering if they just fucked up, because it only gives 2 extra normal damage. But I ended up asking and Chris (GM at the time) said, in a quietened voice (I wonder about that?), that nah, were making it that fencing gives 2 extra MD when using an MD melee weapon.

In this case it is a system, but I will argue that having told me this, I now have a text in my head on the fencing matter, the exact same text Dan and Chris have in their heads. Basically again text and behaviour (we all add the +2 megadamage) are identical, as it has been for thousands of years of boardgames and cardgames where they use written text. And where a discrepancy between text and behaviour emerges, it’s either called cheating or a fuck up. There is no middle ground – that is the self corrective method: that there is no middle ground. Trying to draw a distinction between text and behaviour is attempting to make a middle ground, which by it’s nature throws the self correction out of the window (and the real issue: doesn’t replace it with any other type of self correction).

Alot of talk from me. What I’d say is to look for where your GM is damn sure he’s following some sort of rule, but textually he isn’t (his behaviour does not match any text present and/or any text he claims to be following). In those particular cases, you have identified an absence of system. What can actually be present isn’t anything a human invented, in the same way as a human can have an epileptic fit, yet not have invented the actions of that fit.

It’s a frightening notion to internalise for people who have gone to these experiences for years and years. A bit like trying to suggest to a guy with $2k of whitewolf books on his shelf there might be something wrong with his investment.

Looking at this question
[quote]I suppose I’m really just trying to wrap my head around the idea that the game and the text are two separate things.  In other words: What is the “game,” really?  It’s not the text, but it’s also not totally independent of the text.[/quote]
I think it’s a question of what is AND WHAT IS NOT the “game”.

There has to be some method of rejecting certain behaviours as not being “game”, else any old thing seeps in and is treated with dignified respect as ‘game’. The traditional method, used by board and card gamers for centuries, is for behaviour to match the text – which is the very reason (above) I’m warning against trying to seperate text and behaviour from each other, as doing so is chucking out the only corrective method present and the actual terrible part, not replacing it with another corrective method.

1. Do you see yourself as your own authority on what is, for yourself, a ‘game’ and what behaviours have ceased to be, for yourself, a ‘game’? If so it’s simple, you yourself decide how you determine what is a game and what isn’t. You might like to draw on boardgame culture for how you measure it, since that way your using a method that matches hundreds of thousands of people and has that benefit (mostly people outside ‘gamer’ culture though, sadly). But maybe you’ll decide some other method for yourself.

2. If you don’t see yourself as the authority on the matter, who do you see as the/an authority?

3. Or do you see the answer as physically existant, like the distance between two cities is not something an individual is an authority to decide for themselves, they instead physically measure it?

I hope these questions don’t seem far out – I’m asking them because instead of pretending to be an authority who will tell you what is what, I’m punting the role of authority on to you, and asking as your own authority for yourself, what have or do you decide on these questions? I’m not going to say there are any wrong answers on the matter (except to take authority for oneself and treat it as also having authority over other peoples choices on these questions).

Roll basic maths

Heh, it’d be a funny test if you say if someone can’t give the correct answer to 2+2 you won’t play with them.

I think with math you can communicate with people in a very logical manner. Even with just basic addition.

Unless they can’t give the right answer, of course. Then hey, as said, don’t play with them.

Otherwise all excuses that people don’t read rules or they do whatever and that’s the game and people aren’t logical – it’s rubbish. There are ways of getting through and either you didn’t really try, or you like it being confused.

Oh, and a post on peeling back the graphics of your fave game, on my other blog: http://philosophergamer.blogspot.com/2010/05/if-you-stripped-you-fave-game-bare-of.html

I didn’t say yes so you can’t hear me?

Wow, you can just try and tell someone something they didn’t expect to hear, and it’s like they just tune out entirely and address something you didn’t say, like as a substitute.

Not that he owes it to me to listen to me. But I’m not just gunna let him do that without atleast noting it…oh wait, I’m noting it on my blog instead of bothering with forge wreckage.


Anyway, I said stat plus skill doesn’t cut it …. and how does he respond? He starts describing his stats plus skills like I’d asked to hear about them. FFS.

It’s kind of ironic his setting is about a politician ignoring other people…

Play/rules as mirror images – and stepping through the looking glass

I wouldn’t have ever thought I’d have to describe this –

I have no descrepancy between text and play itself – if a rule says ‘Add your bonus to attack to a D20 roll, if it’s equal to 8 or over, you hit’ then that’s what play is also. They are mirror images of each other.

And where I’ve ignored a rule, as an AP example, on a critical that happened – then when the player got cocky latter and I doubled a damage, as if having stored the crit for latter? I’m making stuff up – I was not following the rules, I wasn’t playing any game the book purported to give.

It’s all been one long playtest for me, for years – it’s gone on for too long. And I kind of realise how much difference is there between someone who allows discrepancies come in between the text and play, but doesn’t acknowledge the difference, and someone who notes it privately but goes on with it as if he can finally wrangle the ruleset, the one that’ll be identical in text and in play, that’ll capture the hearts of all (or atleast all his friends).

Not alot of difference between the two.

Perhaps I’ve been encouraging and indeed even helping perpetuate this ruleset/play discrepancy thing – actually pushing my goal further and further away. Or perhaps not further away and just like a carrot on a stick attached to my collar?

Some of the new games, like capes or 3:16 actually appear to have rules that can be identical in play – though both of those have no game mechanics determined ending. No one has ever finished a game of capes or 3:16 – they have decided to stop playing, but they’ve never finished a game.

Makes it hard to write a game with a mechanically determined ending. There’s no community to help with it, and at the more important end, no community really interested in playing something that doesn’t go on for freaking ever unless you wring it’s neck.

I feel really enthused about writing my ruleset – I can think of all the happy faces, pleased to see it (and I mean pleased to see it when they actually have read it, not at the start when they are pleased because maybe they think it’s something else).[/sarcasm]

There will be no parade.

What’s the point. Utterly alone. Laboring to build a house that will always be empty.

Oh yeah, I was going to stick in a solo play option, so atleast I can rattle around in it, alone if need be.

One occupant. It’s not alot, not a huge reward vs labour of crafting, but it’s alot more than zero reward. Some sustenance to have whilst crafting.

Oh, and a link to my other blog, just to help with the other sustenance accretion.

I think I’ve realised you don’t want to talk about any game result?

You know I’ve just realised that all the actual gameplay accounts from other gamers I’ve seen – they never talk about the outcome of play? Like, an actual result? Except perhaps in saying whether they ran a ‘proper’ game (whatever they mean by proper).

I think I’ve gotten into the happenings alot, but it’s because in a gamist sense, they were pretty unsatifactory to the outcome – okay, we talk alot, we roll some dice and pretty much when the GM wants us to pass, we do (or he has us roll again until we do) and when he doesn’t, we don’t. So if we ‘win’ it’s just up to him deciding that. Pretty unsatisfying outcome.

So I thought other people talked just of the goings on of play for similar reasons of some sort of disatisfaction.

But now I think perhaps that’s all they focus on – goings on, and goings on, and goings on, and goings on. Oh these days it has to be ‘the awesome’ and ‘the fun’, rather than games that have goings on that drag on for eternity, but it’s still ‘awesome’ goings on that drag on for eternity.

I think nar can have a result, though each person at the table might come to their own seperate conclusion on the moral quandries presented, they come to a conclusion/a result/an end….like books do. And gamism is more fundimental – win or lose.

It’s perhaps simulationsim that has no result to talk about. Oh, you can ‘stuff up playing the game properly’, but that’s not a result of play, that’s a failure to play at all.

And I see alot of people just talking about the goings on, more goings on, and so forth, ad nauseum…

Mind you, as I said, I’ve often spoken about the goings on, so perhaps I appear the same? But it was always with the eye towards an end result more satisfying that ‘mother may I win?’

Perhaps this will explain things more

Looking over here at an overview of guildwars 2 development

For example, in a traditional MMO, the character who gives you a quest will tell you ogres are coming to destroy the character’s home, and you need to kill them. You then get a quest which says, “Kill 0/10 ogres” and you proceed to kill a bunch of ogres standing around in a field picking daisies. Since every player in the game needs to be able to do this quest, the ogres will never actually threaten the character’s home – they will just eternally pick daisies in the field. The ogres aren’t actually doing what the quest says they are – the game is lying to you!

See how, hell!, for years and years millions and millions of users have killed the ogre daisy pickers…

Then someone comes along and calls it a lie.

But people, millions of people, have been complacently going with the daisy pickers.

People go along with double talk without noting it – and what’s the physical difference between someone going along with doubletalk without noting it, and someone who believes the double talk?

Further, were they going along with the ogre double talk? Do you really know?

What you teach people doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with what you mean.

‘Expectation matters’ all along, apparently (perhaps?)

I think a recent thread at the forge showed me how much people there favour their expectation over actual rules/an actual system, by the very way they behave in a thread. By the rule someone is moderator of their own thread…nuh uh, if someones expectation (not a rule, an expectation) is broken, they can just ignore all that to post just what definately needs to be posted.

Really can’t set aside expectations in favour of rules, eh?

Just give up on any of notion ‘system matters’. Rules can’t know or nuture your expectations – indeed it can be seen as a feature that rules sever your expectations. No, only GM Herbie from the system matters essay can really understand expectations. Stick with him. Because every time your expectations are about to be broken you just go and break the rules in order to keep your expectations intact.

It’s funny, people have expectations all the time – they think they can jump into a certain pond, but then find out no, spinal injuries result as it was too shallow.

When gross amounts of personal physical injury occur, then people allow their expectation to die.

But otherwise you seem trapped in expectation-ville. You can’t bow your head to a rule and let an expectation die over a rule – nay, your expectations are paramount! And hey, blood isn’t gouting out of your side, thus there’s nothing to say your expectation is wrong! This rule is wrong instead and must die! So stick with Herbie. He knows your expectations better than any stupid rule.

No, system doesn’t matter to you. Expectations do. Just embrace it.

Edit: Actually that might explain Ron’s whole ‘System is HOW we agree’, emphasis on the ‘HOW”. It’s just sliding back to expectation-ville. I mean, isn’t Herbie throwing out a bunch of rules, HOW they agree? So that’s a ‘system’ because that’s exactly HOW they agree and system matters, righty?

“Oh, that’s totatally taking it all in the wrong…”

Of course. What I’m saying is against your expectation.

‘You don’t understand me!’

You know, if you say ‘What you wrote sounds exactly the same as someone who thinks X’
and the other person then goes on to think your saying they believe X and themselves say “You don’t understand me!”

Who’s not understanding whom?

Saying someone sounds exactly the same as a person who thinks X isn’t saying what they think, it’d describing a situation.

Rorschach Play Game

All of roleplay theory seemingly tries to grasp at imagined stuff with the wrong tools. Humans are so used to dealing with physical objects, they take the same perceptions and expections of physical objects, then apply them to imaginative stuff. It’s like the old saying about a man with a hammer sees everything as nails. It’s a bit like back when phrenology was in vogue and psychology was taken to be a matter of measuring bumps on the head!

I mean, do you remember about seven years ago, when people would talk about what the characters want. Not what the players want, what the character wants. That is the sort of slip I’m talking about. Now you might say no one does that anymore, but what other slips just like it still remain, eh?

What are you actually dealing with? Well what can be done is alot like a verbal rorschach test.

Now the thing to be clear on here is that a rorschach test doesn’t force the other person to respond in some way – your asking them to give their responce to various images (or here, verbal descriptions). What they say comes from the initial trigger of what you asked them. If you asked them to say whatever they hear, then you mustn’t be surprised when they say what they hear and it isn’t the same thing you would hear.

Yet saying all this is probably pointless – there seems to be no community who’ll work this way and instead a multitude who ‘know’ the right responce to the described things.

What do you do when you discover a hobby no one plays?